Open Thread: Dr. Romantic Episodes 9 & 10

Welcome to the Open Thread, everyone! Show gives us more medical emergencies than I thought possible to fit into two hours of television, and at the same time, serves up some important character breakthroughs, and I found it altogether pretty satisfying, all around. 😊

I hope you guys are ready to chat about Dr. Romantic episodes 9 & 10! Here are our usual ground rules, before we begin:

1. Please don’t post spoilers in the Open Thread, except for events that have happened in the show, up to this point. I repeat: no spoilers for future episodes please!

We have quite a few first-time viewers among us, and we don’t want to spoil anything for anyone.

2. Discussions on this thread don’t have to close when newer threads open, just so you know! But as we progress through our group watch, please keep the discussions clear of spoilers from future episodes, so that future readers coming to this thread won’t be accidentally spoiled. Does that make sense?

Without further ado, here are my reactions to this pair of episodes; have fun in the Open Thread, everyone! ❤️

My thoughts

Episode 9

Contrary to Dong Joo’s expectations, Chairman Shin’s arrival at Doldam Hospital doesn’t help matters, but only serves to complicate things.

Oops. This is a great example of how a bit of knowledge and confidence can be a dangerous thing.

Master Kim wastes no time in putting Dong Joo in his place for having the audacity to take things into his own hands, and then sends Chairman Shin off, saying that it’s too early for Chairman Shin to be hospitalized.

Afterwards, as Master Kim sees Dong Joo in his office about it, I think it’s noteworthy that Master Kim isn’t violently angry with Dong Joo, but more resigned and exasperated at Dong Joo’s shortsightedness.

Also, I think it’s significant that Dong Joo isn’t as self-righteous and belligerent like he’d been at first, whenever Master Kim would judge his decision to be incorrect.

Instead, Dong Joo looks distinctly deflated and perplexed, as he listens to Master Kim’s explanation of all the things that Dong Joo had overlooked, in making his move.

Even though Master Kim ends the conversation by pronouncing Dong Joo an idiot, this is still some kind of progress, yes?

I really like the quiet support that Head Nurse Oh gives Master Kim, with her gentle update, and her offer of candy, for when his blood sugar drops. It also strikes me that in this scene, Master Kim appears rather affably resigned.

He doesn’t have a clear plan on how to counter any of President Do’s impending attacks, and yet, he has a sense of composure about him, and is even able to give Head Nurse Oh warm, albeit slightly rueful smiles, even as he accepts her gift of candy.

I’m really starting to enjoy this understated friendship – or perhaps kinship? – between Master Kim and Head Nurse Oh.

I’m not super into the political push and pull conversation between President Do and Master Kim in President Yeo’s office, but I do appreciate that the fundamental difference in their philosophies is laid out so clearly.

To President Do, it’s only if the hospital survives, that the doctors can survive, but in Master Kim’s eyes, it’s only if the patients survive, that the doctors can survive. Master Kim is right (and I paraphrase); business and medicine do make poor bedfellows.

And, it’s clear that Master Kim’s (romantic) philosophy has been rubbing off on the people who study under him, too.

When Seo Jung approaches President Do to apologize for disappointing him and causing him trouble, Seo Jung cannot help but insist that Master Kim didn’t do anything wrong, even though she deeply wants President Do’s approval, and even though President Do loses his cool and raises his voice at her, asking how Master Kim had brainwashed her.

The fact that Seo Jung volunteers to resign to take responsibility for the situation, even though we’ve seen that the thing that most dearly wants, is to be able to stay on at Doldam Hospital, shows just how deeply she desires to protect Master Kim.

Even though her position appears to be at least tenuous anyway, due to the investigation, I do still think that it counts for something, that she willingly walks away from the job that is so precious to her.

How awful of President Do, though, to promptly cut ties with her, even though he’s been her guardian for so many years.

Ugh. Honestly, he’s so toxic that I don’t think Seo Jung’s really losing anything, with him cutting off their relationship. But, I do feel really bad for Seo Jung, because she’s looked upon him, and up to him, as her guardian for so long, and this clearly hurts her deeply.

Our poor girl. 💔

It feels like Seo Jung is so defeated by her perceived uselessness, that she tenders her resignation and leaves for Seoul without even saying goodbye.

To my eyes, she’s doing this, not to punish the people around her, but to punish herself. I feel so bad for her, because I do think she is too hard on herself, and tries to bear too much on her own shoulders, even when it’s not her fault to begin with.

I find it interesting that Master Kim gives Dong Joo the sole responsibility of bringing Seo Jung back to Doldam, after she goes missing.

From what we can see later on, it would seem that Master Kim had some idea that she would likely be ok, so I wonder if this assignment is born out of Master Kim thinking it would be a good way for Dong Joo to stretch his empathy muscles, rather than Master Kim truly worrying about Seo Jung’s disappearance.

I actually really like this burgeoning connection that we’re seeing between In Beom and Seo Jung. He’s no longer antagonistic when she talks to him, and now, he even offers to drive her to Seoul, if that’s where she wants to go.

They may not be related, but I think I’m still holding out hope for some kind of faux-sibling relationship.

Even though In Beom does still put up a bit of a prickly front, he seems to understand Seo Jung quite well. The way he points out why she’s talking so much – because she’s feeling uneasy about the phone call from Dong Joo, and also, about her resignation – is spot-on.

That’s pretty impressive, I think, and I feel it says something about In Beom’s ability to read people, since he doesn’t actually know Seo Jung all that well.

It’s pretty satisfying to see Director Song learn first-hand, about what things are like at Doldam Hospital’s ER on a busy Friday.

After all his smug disdain at the Doldam team, I feel like he’s quickly learning some empathy and respect for what they do, with the little that they have in terms of resources.

Also, it feels like poetic justice of some sort, that he’s being punished with the full chaotic force of a Friday ER, while all the other surgeons are unavailable.

Heh. I am reveling a bit, in this schadenfreude. 😅

I do think that the details around Seo Jung’s diagnosis leans convenient and pat.

While I can buy that Master Kim would be able to influence the psychiatrist evaluating Seo Jung because of their pre-existing relationship, and that the doctor (who is clearly more flexible than he first appears) would take into account the various words and pieces of evidence submitted by the members of the Doldam team, it does strike me as odd, that Seo Jung would say that she’d never once wanted to die.

If that’s true, then why had she slit her wrist? In that scene, which had happened quite recently in our drama world, it had appeared that she’d been driven to slit her wrist, by the voices in her head, which insisted that Dr. Moon had died because of her.

If what Seo Jung had said is true, then how do we reconcile that with this wrist-slitting scene? 🧐

I honestly think that this is just Show’s way of wrapping up this arc, such that Seo Jung not only gets to stay on at Doldam Hospital, but also gets to work on her career as a doctor, without the shadow of her PTSD haunting her.

Frankly, I don’t think this is very strong writing, but I’m willing to just close my eyes and roll with it, because I would like to see Seo Jung move beyond her PTSD, to conquer greater heights, while feeling free.

It’s actually really nice, that the first person Seo Jung sees, after receiving her freeing diagnosis, is Dong Joo, who’s intently chased her down, all the way to Geodae Hospital.

There is a lot of unspoken gladness in the way their eyes meet across the crowd, and Seo Jung definitely looks pleasantly surprised to see Dong Joo.

I like the slightly amused manner in which Dong Joo asks Seo Jung if she’s crying, but more than that, I like the sense that there’s a lot going on beneath the surface between these two, even though they don’t say much, in the moment.

It just feels like they’re finding comfort and gladness in each other, and I feel that Dong Joo quietly and gently reaching for Seo Jung’s hand, is a response to that unspoken connection.

And, unlike the first time we’ve seen Dong Joo make an advance towards Seo Jung, where he’d just moved in and kissed her, this time, he asks her permission to keep holding her hand, at least until it warms up.

This progress feels muted and down-to-earth, and I hafta say, I really like it. It does feel like, with this hand-hold, something’s shifted in their relationship, and I’m curious to see how this develops.

How curious, that Yeon Hwa, who’s heretofore been hovering on the sidelines doing odd jobs around the hospital in exchange for the treatment that she’d received, is actually knowledgable enough about medicine, to identify that the ER patient has aerodermectasia (an accumulation of air in the subcutaneous tissues), AND, is able to administer emergency care to the patient, in the absence of available doctors.

Woah. I hadn’t seen that coming. 😳

With our usually quiet and amiable Eun Tak punching out the rather hateful Auditor Choi from Internal Affairs, and Dong Joo and Seo Jung happening on a 6-car collision accident scene while on their way back to Doldam Hospital, our next episode looks all set to be full of Drama with a capital D. 😅

Episode 10

It’s an Extra Dramatic Friday Night at Doldam Hospital, and I gotta say, I found it all-around quite thrilling to be a fly on that hospital’s wall, this hour.

First of all, it’s quite a jaw-dropping experience to see our usually serene Eun Tak lose his cool and actually punch Auditor Choi from Internal Affairs. Plus, he’s not sorry about it either, and he doesn’t look intimidated, even when Auditor Choi moves to call in the police.

The anger and defiance radiating from Eun Tak is something that I didn’t expect, particularly since he’s always been so calm and unruffled, through all of our previous emergencies. I’m definitely sitting up and taking more notice of Eun Tak, going forward.

Second of all, it’s pretty cool to see Dong Joo and Seo Jung jump into action at the scene of the accident (though it’s definitely not cool that there was an accident to begin with, just so we’re clear).

They seem so focused, systematic and organized, even though there are so many wounded from the crash. I also found it pretty great that In Beom could join them on the scene, to help tend to the wounded.

I daresay that without the serendipity of these three doctors happening on the scene, that many more people would have died in the accident.

Even though these three doctors have not spent much time working together at all, there’s a synergy about their teamwork that I really enjoy. Credit to Master Kim, for assessing the situation so well over the phone, and zooming in on how Dong Joo and Seo Jung should prioritize the wounded.

I do like that detail, that when Dong Joo realizes that Seo Jung is staying behind to tend to the wounded on the scene while he and In Beom go in to the ER, he takes off his own jacket to put it on Seo Jung’s shoulders.

Notably, she doesn’t resist, and the vibe between them is rather cozy, like him giving her his jacket is the most natural thing in the world. This clearly doesn’t escape In Beom’s notice, and I’m curious to see where Show goes with this.

I don’t mean to be mean, but there’s a measure of poetic justice in the fact that Auditor Choi is stopped dead in his tracks, when he realizes that the little girl that he’s trying to stop Master Kim from treating, is his own daughter.

Of course, things look very different all of a sudden, when the patient is your own child.

Credit to Kim Joon Won who plays Auditor Choi; I actually found Auditor Choi’s reactions very layered. I felt Auditor Choi’s dilemma, in terms of whether to continue to uphold his work principles, even when it was his own daughter’s life at stake, and I also felt his deep horror and pain, as a parent.

I was pretty amazed that I went so quickly from hating his guts, to feeling sorry for him. (Could our girl Seo Jung be rubbing off on me, I wonder? 😅)

What a testament to Master Kim’s professionalism and compassion, that he treats Auditor Choi with kindness, even though, just minutes before, Auditor Choi had been taunting him and threatening to basically destroy the entire hospital, along with Master Kim.

Later, when Auditor Choi asks Master Kim what Master Kim wants from him, I love the words of wisdom that Master Kim leaves him, “You should go see your kid. I know that you are trying hard to do your job. But let’s not live like a fool. People should live their lives knowing what they are living for.”

It seems that that’s exactly what Auditor Choi needs to hear, because the next thing we know, he’s risking President Do’s wrath and summoning an orthopedic surgeon from Geodae Hospital, to operate on the patients at Doldam Hospital who’d crushed their legs in the accident.

Aw. I do love that idea, that ripples of kindness multiply, as they flow out to others.

I’m a little startled this episode, to learn that In Beom basically lied about his experience dealing with Boerhaave’s syndrome, so that he’d have the opportunity to operate on the patient. 😳

I mean, it’s good that the surgery is a success, but it does niggle at me that he’d lied in order to get that chance to operate, which means that he was hiding a level of risk from Master Kim.

Certainly, Master Kim might have still assigned the surgery to him, seeing as how the hospital is so overwhelmed with emergency patients, but I think it’s not right that In Beom didn’t give full disclosure to Master Kim.

I feel like this is something that Master Kim will have to work on, in him, going forward.

And, I also feel like In Beom’s behavior in this incident, kinda-sorta reminds me of what we might have expected from Dong Joo, in the past, where he would spin the truth in order to make himself look &/or feel better.

Significantly, this time, Dong Joo doesn’t protest at all, that Master Kim assigns him to assist In Beom during the surgery, and simply tells Master Kim that he will go ahead to prepare for the surgery.

Interestingly, even after Dong Joo realizes that In Beom had lied about his experience with Boerhaave’s syndrome, he doesn’t tattle on In Beom to Master Kim – and that is most certainly something that I could imagine the old Dong Joo doing.

Also, the way Dong Joo answers Yeon Hwa’s question, about how he deals with discouragement and the urge to quit, shows that he has a fresh understanding of just how far he has to go, as a doctor.

Yeon Hwa: “What about your beliefs as a doctor… or the sense of duty?”

Dong Joo: “I think… I need at least 10 years of experience to know those things. Speaking about it and knowing it for real are different things.”

And, when Seo Jung is despondent over losing a patient, it’s Dong Joo who now brings her a hot coffee, and sits with her, to remind her that she’s done her best, and is only human. Aw. Our Dong Joo has grown up a fair bit since we first met him, hasn’t he?

I’m so happy for Seo Jung, that the patient whom she’d recommended the special therapy to, wakes up from his coma, and gets a second chance at life after all.

This really is all thanks to Seo Jung’s instincts as a doctor, and her perseverance in persuading the family members to try the treatment, despite protests from all around her.

This man absolutely does owe his life to Seo Jung, and I’m so glad that she gets to see that.

And, yay that Master Kim officially takes Seo Jung off orderly duty, and allows her to resume her duties as a doctor.

I also just wanted to mention for the record, that when Master Kim tells Seo Jung not to cry, because he’ll get emotional, he says “정들어” (jeong deureo), which literally means “feelings come in,” a phrase that is generally used to describe the growing of affection.

So, he’s actually telling Seo Jung not to cry, because he might grow affectionate of her.

This is the second time I’ve observed Master Kim use this phrase, and I find that in effect, it’s quite ironic actually, because Master Kim definitely has more affection for his doctors than he’d like to admit.

Manager Joo spending time in Master Kim’s office, and going through his files, is such an overstepping of boundaries. It kind of blows my mind that anyone would think that that is ok behavior, particularly since she’s not on exactly close terms with Master Kim.

I’m intrigued at what she says, though, about Master Kim having a plan, and that that plan involves a core team of people.

When she asks Master Kim who those people might be, I feel like Master Kim does give her a sideways sort of answer, in his answer to Head Nurse Oh, with regard to who to call into the surgery with the orthopedic surgeon from Geodae.

Master Kim names Dr. Nam, Dong Joo, In Beom, Seo Jung, Eun Tak and Head Nurse Oh herself, and I feel like in answering Head Nurse Oh’s questions, he’s answering Manager Joo’s as well; that this is the core team that he has in mind.

I gotta say, I found the scene of the whole team napping in the doctor’s rest area, post-surgery, a really heartwarming sight.

They all look tired out, but they also look like they’ve done good work, together, and sprawled out in various corners as they are, they also look like a community.

I like that a lot. ❤️

I’m looking forward to seeing this team grow together, particularly in the areas of trust and synergy, but in the meantime, it looks like there might be complications on the horizon, with President Do angling to get Dong Joo on his side, and Seo Jung possibly falling out of favor with Master Kim again, after he catches her lounging in his office with Jang Hyeon Joo’s student card in her hand.

Yikes. 😬 I suppose the path to greatness never does run smooth..?

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Elaine Phua
Elaine Phua
2 years ago

It was actually Crash Landing on You which informed me about the trope of seeing first snow with your love, and since then I’ve seen it in SO MANY dramas (like Healer), without explanation. So thank you CLOY! And it was Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo which told me that it’s a thing for Korean couples to put their hands in each others’ jacket pockets. Cos obviously we don’t do that in Singapore, it is way too hot and humid here. Lol! So I was super chuffed to see first snow and hands in pockets done so sweetly and simply by Dong Joo and Seo Jung. And I heart that she’s finally not pushing him away, but just glad to see him and accept his affection. And glad he’s learned how not to be a pushy jerk. I really liked the traffic accident scene too, it was very well done dramatically and the young doctors worked so well together. I am still not chuffed with how Seo Jung’s PTSD is resolved. I feel like the first two episodes were written by another, much more hyper-melodramatic writing team and the subsequent team toned things down more. Not sure if that’s the case but if not, then the writing team is not very responsible in tying up a suicide thread well.

Just pointing out an observation on the medical side of things – Romantic Dr Kim leans a lot into the Emergency Room territory, gruesome accidents and frenetic caseload. They do give an explanation that Doldam Hospital is near the intersection of multiple highways in an earlier episode. Whereas Hospital Playlist has much less of the ER dynamic, case load is more spread out and the emphasis is more on the human touching aspect of the patients and their families, and the doctors private lives too. So not so many heart squeezing panicky moments as compared to Dr Kim haha

2 years ago
Reply to  Elaine Phua

@Elaine YES! That whole “first snow” is such a thing… I think the first time I saw it is in Goblin, which was like the second Kdrama I ever watched. And it seems like it shows up in so many dramas where there’s a romantic pairing involved, almost never with any discussion or overt explanation. It’s just part of the subtextual dramatic romance vocabulary.

2 years ago
Reply to  Elaine Phua

My first realization of the big deal about the “first snow” was in “My Love from the Stars”, where it was explained to death. I had seen it, more subtly, in other shows as well. I, too, liked its subtle deployment here.

2 years ago
Reply to  Elaine Phua

Actually, for me I believe show has not slowed down an iota. I think there is still a ton of info being delivered in each episode that one does not take in on first viewing. Reading responses here, I can see how that leads to what I perceive as misunderstandings and dissatisfactions.
Fortunately for myself I liked the pacing from the beginning, thought it was kinetic, like good dance music, and, for example, because show seems well written to me, economically written, the short story of the man and wife about to have their fiftieth anniversary, from accident site to heart failure, including providing just enough info to substantiate Seo Jung’s self reflective reaction to wife’s death (should she have pursued harder when wife said tightness in heart just due to excitement?), it allows for their story to justifiably emotionally register with almost no screen time at all given to them.
This, the hundred tiny details I am noticing this time, is why, for example, I infer that actually Seo Jung’s wrist slashing was not a suicide, but plea for help, and she can by really looking into her “scar” as voice over speaks to, come to understand that her problem is that the truth of it is she wants to live so very much, while at the same time feels so guilty for surviving, which is at the root of being so overly emotional (and perhaps being so emotional, as we actually witness as viewers, is why she can be such a Crazy Whale in the ER).
One of the most ironical things about panic attacks, for example, is that someone experiencing a panic attack often becomes self conscious about hearing their own heartbeat. But would it not be worse, if you really think about it, to not hear one’s heart beating? When students speak of test anxiety, what is actually happening is that their systems are naturally jacking up the adrenaline to boost awareness and energy. That same feeling, channeled in the right way, provides an individual an enormous advantage for the task at hand. And when we speak of trauma, one of the defining elements of trauma is being stuck in the past, not being able to change something. The near accident on the roadway with Dong Joo–they did not hit a truck or vice versa, and the young man sitting next to her with whom she is falling love does not get injured, let alone die, and her immediate, unthinking response to the accident victims and survivors was an example of how a traumatic situation repeated with a different result can unlock the initial experience.
I realize others see show differently than I do, but I do think writers are quite aware of their own plot complications and working in their very economical, and it must be said, quickly paced manner to address them. I can see reading the responses to show by so many others why, however, it passes over or under someone just trying to keep up with the pace of each episode.

2 years ago
Reply to  Elaine Phua

Also in Mr. Sunshine. What amazes me is that people living in most locales where snow is a regular thing do not give even the first snow fall such a romantic view. Even where I live where snow is infrequent the recent spate of freezing weather and snowfall, which was extraordinarily beautiful, was greeted with abject disdain, frustration, and anger at its inevitable inconveniences. It is kind of nice to know that despite a snowy season, year in and year out, Korean culture finds romance in the beauty of the first falling snow.

2 years ago

I’ve been enjoying this drama since Ep 5 onwards (once the pace settled down a bit). But I do have to say that medical dramas have a tendency to all feel the same. All that blue white and red.

Question: Do koreans really carry around cremated ashes in boxes wrapped in cloth? Is that a real thing?

2 years ago

I have to say while it’s taken me a while to get there, I am starting to understand the rhythm of Master Kim and the way he works and teaches. I feel like in these episodes we saw better integration of the Geodae staff as a members of this team instead of just the people sent by Director Do. I appreciated watching them contribute to the chaos of ER shifts in a way that benefited everyone.

It’s interesting that the end of episode 10 we hear the voice over about Director Do will take everyone you love and you see Kang Dong Joon and him eating. It sets up an assumption that Master Kim has come to care for him both as colleague and student whether it is said out loud or not. The less screen time Director Do gets the better my watch is. I know exactly what arc he is playing into and frankly I don’t think this story needs it. In a hospital that sees a lot of tragedy, do we really need a villain too?

Kang Dong Joon has grown so much as character, I observed this in his conversation with Yeon-Hwa (who I am sad to see go that felt unexpected). While I used to find him somewhat aggravating in his decisions and attitude, I now find him warm and compelling? I applaud the show for allowing his growth to be so nuanced I didn’t even quite realize how much I had come to enjoy his character. So much so, I am not minding the slow burn of the growing relationship between him and Seo Jung, and I realized it won’t make sense if it was rushed.

It seems like the ID card that fell on ground in Master Kim’s office is alluding to a potential daughter? I have been curious for some time about his backstory while also rooting for the possibility of him and Head Nurse Oh.

No one talks about him in the comments, but I LOVE Dr. Nam. Something about his demeanor and on screen presence is both comforting and calming to me. I find his character to be a lovely break in the action and rather endearing presence from both the hospital to his little countryside restaurant.

2 years ago
Reply to  dramallama

Oh, I also LOVE Dr. Nam, but he does seem to slip under the radar for exactly the reasons that makes him likable. In my quiet moments, I wonder if he, rather than Nurse Oh, has a special relationship with Master Kim. And I still want to go to his restaurant someday.

2 years ago
Reply to  j3ffc

The Doldam entire staff are really part of the show’s charm. This is a very popular show, and that ensemble are distinctly one of the reasons. From story’s point of view, these are folks who not only work well together, but work well under Dr. Romantic’s lead (although some credit must be given to Go savant and exotic plant afficianado–again writing is so good down to its details, think of that combo as a metaphor–Director Yoo’s almost invisible hand).

2 years ago
Reply to  dramallama

@ dramallama: The ID card is that of Kim Sabu’s former student, who was misdiagnosed and sent into surgery with Doctor Song. This was the surgery at the Main Hospital flashbacked in episode 5 to when Kim Sabu, then Boo Yong Joo, came into the operating theater in a rage after she had died on the surgeon’s table. Not only was she a favorite and dear pupil to Boo Yong Joo, but then Chairman Do, fearing that Boo Yong Joo would make trouble for him as a result of the botched and unnecessary operation, providing a threat to his role at the hospital, framed the then Boo Yong Joo, exiling him from the medical profession, pressuring the staff of witnesses into compliance with the lie.
It appears, flash forward to present at Doldam, that Kim has a file on all the younger people he considers his pupils, including that of Dong Joo and Seo Jung. The card had accidently slipped from the file where it had rested under Seo Jung’s information when he was putting away her letter of resignation and fell on the floor where Seo Jung found it. Both the death of his pupil and then his being framed are Kim Sabu’s backstory–why he changed his name, why he took up practice in this little hole in the wall hospital, why he has such an antiestablishment and iconoclastic attitude about doctoring, and why he not only walks around with a chip on his shoulder, but why he does the best he can to mask his feelings for Seo Jung, whom we infer reminds him of the young woman who died, and Dong Joo, whom, despite doing so with such gruff exterior, he has been teaching from moment one.

Like you, although one must admire his slick hair style, I wish Chairman Do was something other than the complete villain he is, but as a character, he seems to be playing so many essential roles in the story. First, he is essential to all three characters’ backstories, having had relationships to each at crucial moments in their lives. Secondly, he does appear to be the personal embodiment of show’s main themes about the medical and hospital professions–profit vs. lives, not to mention personal aggrandizement v. ethical professionalism, and he serves as Kim Sabu’s foil and worthy opponent (worthy in the sense of how cunning and ruthless he is creating the challenges Kim Sabu in his passion and uprightness faces). Finally, he appears to be a catalyst for the plot of entire show to move forward. If Dr. Romantic were merely be an episodic show, one could say it does a bang up job with the individual cases and events to work on that level, but it is clear they are trying to tell a season long story, and the cases are there to supplement, enhance, and ornament the larger plot as it is being telegraphed in the opening voiceovers. In the end Dr. Romantic embraces the melodrama genre whole, including providing a villainous villain with whom its audience can find no sympathy.

2 years ago

KFG thank you for such close observation. I am tending to think the closer one looks at show, the more one becomes aware,despite its problems–a plot hole here or there, its tendency to go a bit over the top with melodrama, especially with the evil Doctor Do, or including some behaviors that from a reasonable perspective seem questionable–that Doctor Romantic is a show not only highly entertaining and moving at times but worthy of such a close look; we are rewarded by such a close look. So thank you again, for giving these two episodes their due.
My method for these rewatches has been to just rewatch and without thinking too much about it react, and then a couple days later watch again taking notes. I have to admit the bookend of the opening scene in episode 9 and closing scene in episode 10 in my just watch left me feeling a bit disappointed with show. The business of Kim Sabu punching Dong Joo below the belt struck me as perhaps the most reprehensible thing I have seen of the good doctor. Beyond unprofessional, beyond the ridiculously over the top and out of control, actually so much so that it appeared out of character, even if one goes so far as to sympathize with Kim Sabu’s anger with Dong Joo for setting Seo Jung up for a fall, and was patently not only physically abusive, but an abuse of power in a professional situation. The scene right after in his office, an intense in the moment face to face dressing down would have been sufficient. In retrospect, on second rewatch, I had to simply write it off as a show mistep, writer? director? actors?
Then there is the business of CEO Dough’s relentless villainy. I know there are ruthless, sociopathic people in the world who in positions of power behave with abject cruelty for no other purpose than their own gain. But even though I am certainly old enough to have experienced the upshot of such people, more personally the folks I have known and met are pretty decent folk, who may hurt others, make mistakes, become compromised, act horribly in desperate situations, but do not behave like Director Do. His character strikes me as right out of villain central casting. There is really nothing but greed, nakedly selfish ambition, and lust for power animating his behavior. One of the things I love most about K Drama is that in its pantheon of characters, many of them do horrible things, but do so in a contextualized light. I really like Dr. Romantic, but this element of melodrama in show, in which a major character seems more caricature than real has always bothered me a bit, and by the end of episode 10, his role is so out in the open, one cannot miss it.

Okay. Those were my gripes, but what an astonishing pair of episodes. I know only a few of us are still with this and chiming in, but it strikes me how fortunate we are that K is hosting this forum, because Dr. Romantic is an incredibly well put together melodrama.

Let’s start with Seo Jung, who for me in my rewatch is a much the heart of the show as Kim Sabu is its thinking and doing. The ways Seo Hyun Jin inhabits her character is just wonderful. Episode after episode, she does such a good job of infatuating her audience. After confessing to Do In Beom in the car that she has nowhere to go, and he responds by telling her that she has “such a pitiful life,” her ability to register such a fetching combination of self awareness and chagrin on her face and in her laugh just knocked me out. Or how upon seeing Dong Joo outside the hospital entry after realizing her whole future had not been lost, and there he was, not just talk or flirtation, but there–“I got a tip, and came running…” That expression on her face and how her face amplifies that expression over the following moments–and contained in that–the first full awareness and wonder that he is her guy, Dong Joo is her guy, and she is in love with him. All done just with facial expression. Terrific stuff.
I do not remember how much back and forth must go in yet, but I like that half way through that page has been turned. In the midst of all the other melodramatic sturm und drang going on, the romantic element is on. For all he bumbles and makes mistakes, audience and Seo Jung have to know, the young man has never been just fooling around, just wanting a quick paw on the arm, or simply to sleep with her when it comes to his feelings for Seo Jung.
The issue of PTSD. I have argued before that I think to look at PTSD in the clinical fashion might not be actually the lens through which show writers have viewed it at all. And after Dong Joo’s voice-over commentary at the beginning of Episode nine and the events that followed, I am more convinced of this. First of all, there is so much for me to say again and again about how well structured show is, how information is well and economically delivered, and that beginning with the voice overs at the beginning of some episodes.
At the beginning of episode nine, Dong Joo, speaks to the issue of scars, evading looking into them, and the necessity of looking into them. (An aside–think of how much pain Han Seok Kyu’s Dr. K registers on his face at the end of episode 10, having come across Seo Jung with his old student’s id in hand–talk about a scar! And that card in, of all people, Seo Jung’s hand–unbearable as Seo Jung’s auditory hallucinations, perhaps even more so on the face of tough old Kim Sabu). When she runs out of the room having been asked if she was still suicidal, Seo Jung, is evading looking at the scar, for fear of what that answer might be. After all how can she forget that she so recently slashed her wrist? And as an audience, we too follow that same train of reason, but this: when Seo Jung realizes at the pizza joint (cool product placement, background Mariah Carey singing Christmas song–oh it’s winter time, the setup for the snow scene!–, Im Beom as catalyst getting her to the heart of the matter, her commitment to the Doldam staff, their way of life as medical people) she has something urgent to take care of, what could that be? Finding that psychiatrist and having looked into the scar, seen the actual truth: her pain is of aggravated survivor’s guilt because she wants to live so much, and help others survive as well. In this light, the wrist slashing, especially when considered in a room full of medical professionals who love her, was not so much a suicidal act, but a cry for help. Help her live carrying on with such a big heart that every patient who dies before her rends her whale sized heart as they pass, help her become the doctor, the healer, she wishes with each new tragedy before her, she so fervently wishes to be.
This emergency room, life and death surgery business is not for the faint of heart or mind. Why Kim Sabu tells Dong Joo to come back and talk to him after a hundred have died in front of him. It is hard to imagine really escaping at least some mild form of PTSD if that is one’s life. My daughter who works at a local hospital last night was talking to me about stress level of the staff at her hospital a year into covid. Seo Jung knows in the moment we do not see between pizza joint and hospital what it is she is living for and that is to, as Dr. Romantic put it to Inspector Choi, save lives,
Then there is the rhyme of the almost accident on a snowy road. Show is so good at delivering this stuff subliminally. And there she is, no qualms, no anixieties, no haunted auditory hallucinations, but out on the road dealing, even to the point of dealing to the stupid young drunk, you want to know who she is, Seo Jung is the Crazy (as in crazy wisdom) Whale (as in the heart, the size of a whale).

I have other smaller comments, but I will end this here, hoping more folks chime in.

2 years ago
Reply to  BE

I agree with pretty much everything you wrote, especially the impression that Seo Hyun Jin is just killing it in this.

2 years ago

I agree with kfangurl that this may well be a lame dismissal of the whole PTSD arc – if we don’t return to that issue, that is – but I had a different reaction to the psychiatrist doing the examining. He was certainly presented as inflexible at the outset, or at least very stern, but as the story progressed I just saw him as a competent professional trying to do his job. Certainly he was aware that the two sides were hoping for specific outcomes, and had history with Master Kim, but at the end he was presented as revealing the straight-up results of his investigation. I was pleased that for once we got to see a character outside of Doldam who was more or less acting as one would expect that person to do in the real world (well, maybe not by asking the subject of the investigation to deliver the results of his inquiry).

At least we got to see Seo Jung proclaim “Me? I’m the Mad Whale of Doldam Hospital!!”

Elaine Phua
Elaine Phua
2 years ago

How has no one mentioned sumo wrestler – bouncer – Mr Gu who can lift grown men like they are toddlers?! Mr Gu is awesome. He is the protector of Doldam hospital.

Internal auditor Choi was another great example of the show up ending our expectations by casting and directing someone who plays according to type and then suddenly displays layers and emotional depth in crisis (the previous one was gangster dad whose daughter and wife were raped).

2 years ago
Reply to  Elaine Phua

I also love how whenever we see anyone getting feisty, Head Nurse Oh immediately calls out “Mr. Gu!” and he comes striding up to handle things….

2 years ago

I think this was a great lesson for Dong-joo that the smartest thing to do is sometimes think strategically, make sure you understand how the battlefield is arrayed, before just bulling ahead with direct action. In other words, his Chairman Shin gambit was not the masterful stroke he thought it would be. Master Kim handed him his head in the after-action debrief much more gently than I was expecting, and even kind of managed to teach him a bit about the world of big-time hospital politics, I think. Something that will be useful for Dong-joo to understand, no doubt.

I confess I giggled when near the end of episode 10, Master Kim summoned Seo-jung from a discussion she’s having with Dong Joo, walks her down the hallway to a room, nods his head and is like, go in there. And she’s all wary, like, “…in there?” And he leans in and says in a menacing half-whisper “would you rather have your joints kicked in the open,” and she kind of deflates and is all, no I’ll go in…and it turns out to be the grandfather she gave the expensive treatment to who has revived, with his wife and daughter. And of course we already established in the first episode that “kicking joints” is the sort of thing at least some seniors do to their juniors, so even if we haven’t seen Master Kim be that sort of mentor, it’s at least within the universe of the possible. Like I said, I giggled at the reveal…